Land Use

  • Understand: Understand what land use compatibility is and why it’s important.

    Establishing compatible land uses near your airport can benefit both the airport and the surrounding community alike. Compatible uses can reduce annoyance issues associated with aircraft noise and minimize accident risk for people living near your airport. Additionally, it protects the environment around your airport from things that can impact pilots and aircraft/passengers in flight, including visual obstructions (such as glare that can temporarily blind a pilot) and tall structures that must be navigated around, among others.


    • Land Use Concerns: Learn about the five common concerns associated with incompatible land uses. [Details]
    • Planning and Legal Tools: Understand the planning and legal tools that are employed to establish and maintain compatibility, such as real estate disclosures and zoning ordinances. [Details]
    • Land Use Outreach Tools: Review the education and communication tools and techniques that are used to promote compatible uses near airports. [Details]
  • Explore: Explore the current status of compatible land uses near your airport and what resources can help you in your airport’s current land use situation.

    Since airports are usually the biggest proponents for establishing airport-compatible uses nearby, the responsibility for undertaking compatible land use planning efforts often falls on airports. However, since many airports are owned by local municipalities, those entities also have a responsibility to protect their airports from the impacts of incompatible uses.

    The goal of this section of the toolkit is to outline the responsibilities of various entities in achieving airport land use compatibility, help identify any existing land use issues at your airport, and determine whether any of the legal or other land use tools in the “understand” section of this toolkit are being used in your community.


    • Who Needs to Be Involved in the Land Use Discussion? Find out the players needed and why constant communication with governmental officials is so important for land use compatibility. [Details]
    • Are There Existing Land Use Issues Near Your Airport? Take the necessary steps to search for any existing land use issues near your airport. [Details]
    • Are You Using Any Legal or Other Land Use Tools Currently? Find out if your airport is equipped with any proper land use tools and discover what you can do to find the necessary land use tools specific for near your airport. [Details]
  • Take Action: Take action to evaluate what tools might work best to make the most of the compatible land around your airport and ways you can prevent future incompatibility.

    A number of methods can be used to establish and implement land use control measures at your airport. Choosing the best one is dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to the level of airport support, the location of your airport, and whether incompatible uses already exist around your airport.

    The recommended tools and techniques to achieve compatible uses near your airport depend on whether incompatible uses already exist around your airport, or if you are planning ahead to prevent future incompatible uses on undeveloped land nearby. In either case, outreach and education for local leaders and citizens are crucial for a shared understanding of the importance of airport land use compatibility. Sample outreach efforts include:

    • Develop a brochure that explains the importance of compatibility and the importance of the airport as a community asset (see brochure template below).
    • Host an airport open house to discuss impacts and risks associated with incompatible uses

    Additionally, it is important that you or another airport representative be present at local municipal meetings and hearings to be the eyes and ears of your airport. Acting as a liaison between your airport and local planning commissions and elected officials will allow you to stay abreast of proposed development in the area and share any concerns you may have from an airport operational or safety standpoint.

    For additional information on each of these options, resources, or tools - visit Land Use Outreach Tools.


    • Existing Incompatible Land Uses: Learn about tools and techniques you can use to minimize or eliminate any existing incompatible land uses in or around your airport’s surrounding area. [Details]
    • Preventing Future Incompatible Land Uses: Learn about ways in which you can protect the underdeveloped land around your airport for future compatibility. [Details]


    • Airports and Communities Brochure, Iowa

      This resource is a brochure titled Airports and Communities - Planning together for the future viability of your local airport. The informational brochure was developed for the Iowa Department of Transportation, Office of Aviation as part of the statewide Airport Land Use Guidebook project.